Thursday, December 30, 2010

Go-it-alone lessons hard learned

TWO years ago this week, the Middle East once again reached boiling point when Israel launched a military incursion into the Gaza Strip.

Jeremy Sharon
The Australian
29 December '10
(h/t Elder of Ziyon)

The operation marked the breaking point of Israel's patience, having absorbed more than 6000 rocket and mortar attacks on the towns and cities of the south since withdrawing from Gaza in August 2005.

More importantly though, the brief but messy conflict in the dying days of 2008 marked for many Israelis the point at which they lost their faith in the notion of land for peace. For them, ceding land had led not to peace but simply to more war.

At a time when the international community is trying to revive the moribund pace process, primarily by pressuring Israel, it is important this sentiment is taken on board. A recent study conducted by the Institute for National Security Studies in Israel shows that prior to Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, 60 per cent of the Israeli public supported the establishment of a Palestinian state. This year, that number barely reaches 50 per cent and working out the reason for this precipitous decline is not difficult.

In the three years following Israel's disengagement from Gaza, Hamas militarised the Gaza Strip, abducted Gilad Shalit, expelled the forces of Fatah and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas from the territory and launched more than 6000 rockets and mortars at Israeli towns and cities.

When considering the manner in which Hezbollah filled the power-vacuum left by Israel in the wake of its withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000, the calculation for Israelis became clear. Two territorial withdrawals in five years had significantly and irrevocably damaged their security, and another pull-back, this time from the West Bank, might well be suicidal.

(Read full "Go-it-alone lessons hard learned")

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